Ferries in Athens
Information on the different ferry services and the main routes from Athens to the Greek Islands, including the Cyclades, Dodecanese, Crete and Aegean islands. Also links to ferry companies and online booking facilities…
Greece has over 6,000 islands, although only a small percentage are inhabited, and there is a huge amount of ferry travel within the country. Many people commute daily to Athens from the nearby islands.
There are ferry routes to virtually all inhabited islands, although some may run irregularly to the smaller islands. Most can be reached by direct ferry from one of the Athenian ports. Ferries will either do a fast run to the largest islands, or will take a slower route, stopping at small and medium sized islands on the way. Some islands have ferry routes operating on a daily basis, others can only be reached every other day or less frequently, depending on the season and the size of island. Islands within a group not served by the large ferry companies are interconnected by local ferries.
Cyclades, Dodecanese, Crete and all other Aegean islands
There are several ferry companies departing from the Attica ports, with ferry routes serving these islands.
Ferries leave from Rafina and Lavrio ports for the southern part of the island of Evia (also known as Euboea). The island can also be reached by car, via a small bridge to the town of Chalkida (also known as Halkis) in the middle of the island.
There are no direct ferries from the Attica region. Ferries to the Ionian Islands depart from the west coast of the mainland which can be reached by road - bus or coach.
Many Greek islands are known by more than one name. Some of these names are used in English but not in Greek, while for some islands two names are often used in Greek. Ferries and timetables often feature just one of the names and it may be useful for travellers to know both.
- Kriti (?????) – Crete
- Kerkyra – (???????) – Corfu
- Mytilini (????????) – Lesvos or Lesbos (??????)
- Santorini (?????????) – Thira (????)
- Zakynthos (????????) – Zante
- Rodos (?????) – Rhodes
- Evia (??????) – Euboea
Ports in Athens
There are three major ports in the Attica region: Piraeus, which is by far the busiest, and Rafina and Lavrio, which are both situated east of Athens.
Piraeus port is located in south west Athens, 10 Km from the city centre and easily accessible by public or private transport.
The Metro line 1 (Green line) runs to Piraeus, as do bus lines 049 from Omonia square and 040 from Syntagma square. Private vehicles must find parking in Piraeus; there is no dedicated parking area for travellers.
Ferries leave Piraeus for virtually all Aegean islands. The port is divided into zones, where ferries serving certain destinations dock. Each zone is accessed by a particular port gate. It's recommended to enter the port at the right gate for the end destination (the ferry booking office can provide that information). A free bus service operates within the harbour itself and can take travellers from one gate to another.
- The Pireas port website has useful information on access and maps of the port and gates: Click here
- Piraeus port
At: Akti Miaouli, 185 38 Piraeus,
Tel: 210 455 0000 / 210 455 0100
- Timetable information
Tel: 14 541 Monday to Friday from 07:30-14:30
- Recorded weekly itineraries
Tel: 210 414 7800
- Piraeus port authority
Tel: 210 422 6000
- Piraeus port police
Tel: 210 417 2675
Rafina port is located 30 Km east of Athens city centre. It's the second biggest port in Attica and connects Athens with some Aegean islands and with Evia. The port can be reached by bus or taxi. Buses leave from Aereos park, near Viktoria metro stop.
- Rafina port (in Greek)
At: Akti Andrea G. Papadreou, 190 09 Rafina
Tel: 229 402 3605 / 229 402 2840
- Rafina harbour Police Tel: 229 402 2300
Lavrio port is situated 54 Km southeast of Athens. It is the third port of Attica and connects Athens with some Aegean islands (more during the summer) and with Evia. The port can be reached by bus or taxi. Buses leave from Aereos park, near Viktoria metro stop.
- Lavrio port
Tel: 229 202 5249 / 241 252 6859
Fax: 229 206 0188
- Lavrio harbour Police Tel: 229 202 5249
Types of Ferries
Travel times and levels of comfort can vary greatly depending on the type of ferry. The fastest boats are small, often catamaran and hydrofoil-type "flying dolphins", and run shorter routes. Passengers may not be able to go out on deck during the journey and seating is similar to that in an aeroplane. Ticket prices are higher than the slower, larger ferries. Small boats are unable to sail in bad weather.
There are also several large vehicle-carrying ferries operating in the Aegean. These are considerably slower than the smaller vessels but often have more space for passengers, with tables in the seating areas, restaurants and cabins for overnight journeys. On these boats, pricing varies depending on whether the passenger has access to the outer decks only, the basic indoor public seating areas or the spacious First Class areas with large, reclining seats.
Ferry Companies in Greece
Below are contact details for some of the major ferry lines in Greece. Each ferry company serves a specific set of islands. The lists of destinations are not exhaustive and may change a lot, especially in summer when the number of departures increases. Departures are from Piraeus unless otherwise stated.
- Hellenic Seaways: Destinations from Piraeus and Rafina include Skopelos and the other Sporades islands. Aegina, Spetses, Hydra and other Argo-Saronic islands as well as Milos and many other islands in the North East Aegean and Cycladic island groups
Tel: 210 419 9000
- Blue Star Ferries: Routes to the Cycladic islands and Crete, including: Schinoussa, Astypalia, Tilos, Kasellorizo, Syros and Santorini. Also runs from Rafina to Andros, Tinos and Mykonos
Tel: 210 891 9800
- GA Ferries: Lines to Rhodes, Kasos and Karpathos. Other destinations include Mykonos and Skiathos
Tel: 210 458 2640
- ANEN Lines: From Piraeus to the islands of Kythira and Antikythira. From there further lines run to the Peloponese including Mani and Kalamata
Tel: 282 102 0345
- NEL: From the mainland, including Lavrio to Chios and Lesvos - also has several lines between Cycladic islands such as Andros, Donoussa, Folegandros, Koufonissi, Tinos, Sifnos, Kimolos and Kythnos
Tel: 210 411 5015
- ANEK: Destinations include Paros, Naxos, Syros, Ios, Santorini, Chios and Lesbos
Tel: 210 419 7420
- Minoan Lines: Ferry line to Crete and also others to Italy
Tel: 210 414 5700
- Superfast Ferries: Direct line to Heraklion, Crete and also routes to Italy
Tel: 210 891 9800
- Kallisti Ferries: Lines to Samos, Fourni and Ikaria in the north east Aegean
Tel: 210 422 2972
Ferry tickets can be bought from the ferry booking offices or kiosks at the ports, or booked online with the ferry company through their website. Tickets can also be booked online and prices compared on the following websites:
Many Greeks take their holidays in August, and as congestion in Athens eases during this month it increases in the Aegean. Around the middle of the month, especially on Fridays (departure) and Sundays (return), tickets to and from Athens may sell out quickly. It is recommended to book in advance during Easter, high season and around national holidays.
Children under five travel for free on conventional ferries, and benefit from a 50 percent discount in cabin accommodation. Children aged five to ten also have a 50 percent discount on fares.
Pets travel free but are not allowed in cabins or indoor public areas - large ferries have kennel boxes where the pets can be housed for the trip. Pet owners must carry valid health papers for their animal.
In most cases, passengers and vehicles must check in at the embarkation port at least one hour before departure.
Timetables and schedules, strong winds and cancellations
Timetables are not usually available online as the schedules are seldom confirmed more than a few days in advance. This is because of the frequent strong winds in the Aegean Sea. When there are strong winds and bad weather forecast it is important to check wind strength for both the outward and homeward journey. It is not unheard of for all ferries to be cancelled for several consecutive days.
For reliable schedule information it is essential to contact the ferry company or port authority.
Wind strength is measured on the Beaufort scale. The scale refers to conditions in open sea, not near shore. At about 8 Beaufort, "Gale", winds blow at about 20m/s and waves reach over seven metres. The fast ferries cannot sail if a wind measures more than 4 or 5 Beaufort and the larger ones may sail at much reduced speeds. From about 8 Beaufort (other weather conditions depending) all ferries may be cancelled. Travel agencies can inform whether boats have been cancelled some hours before scheduled departures.
As there is so much ferry traffic in Greece, Greeks are very familiar with the Beaufort scale and will often mention it when discussing the weather. The Greek pronunciation of Beaufort is roughly "Bofor".
- For information on wind strength in the Aegean: Click here
Food and Drink Onboard
The prices of some food products on ferries are set by law and must always conform to these prices. Fixed pricing affects:
- 0.5l bottle water
- Toasted sandwich with cheese and ham (toast)
- Small café frappé
The menu must indicate which foods are price protected. Note, however, that the prices refer only to these specific items. A toasted sandwich with cheese, ham and salad does not have a price restriction, nor does a medium frappé coffee. These set prices tend to increase a little every year.